France. The government plan to support the arts and crafts, announced last May, is ambitious. An envelope of 340 million euros is intended to structure the sector in all of its ramifications, from its training to its international position, including its attractiveness. In order to be able to implement this plan, the Minister of Culture, Rima Abdul Malak, has instructed, from October 2022, the director of National Furniture, Hervé Lemoine, to study possible means of cooperation between his institution and the City of ceramics – Sèvres & Limoge.
In his report, delivered at the beginning of September, Hervé Lemoine highlights the complementarity of the two manufacturers, whose skills could be shared within a new public center. “It’s about bringing together two establishments in a common strategy that will retain their identity”, he specifies. This identity is first marked by the public nature of the structures, while the movement to promote artistic crafts seems until now to be driven exclusively by luxury groups. “The action of this public center must be complementary to that of the private sector, confirms the director of National Furniture. Based on the prestige of the most famous and ancient factories of the State, [cette future entité] must be able to play an essential role in promoting these professions better. »
With this in mind, this entity should be made up of both factories and workshops, which condense nearly four centuries of history, but also national museums and the collections of the National Furniture and the Cité de la Ceramique. “Museums and collections, like those of the Sèvres museums, can serve as sources of inspiration for current artists, insists the director of National Furniture. Many young people ignore wealth [de ces métiers], it’s up to us to introduce them to them. »
The training of future professionals is also one of the major axes in the construction of the future institution. Hervé Lemoine insists on the importance of offering an offer adapted to orphan professions (those whose transmission has ceased), while existing apprenticeship paths are scattered and still too little known to the public. It indicates that “of the 281 crafts, 56 are represented at the Mobilier national and at the Cité de la Ceramique, which in fact bring together a very large number of them“. Bringing together establishments would therefore facilitate the creation of a single CFA (apprentice training center), open to orphan or shortage trades (such as textile weaving or table goldsmithing), which would harmonize all training.
Improve the economic situation of the sector
In addition to constituting a reference for training, this arts and crafts center could also help to economically support the sector. By mobilizing public procurement with the aim of encouraging the relocation of activities, by securing the supply chains of raw materials and by encouraging artistic craft networks on the ground, the State could intervene upstream, there where certain private companies save excellent workshops in difficulty by buying them. All these measures, put in place thanks to the networks and material resources of the Cité de la Ceramique and Mobilier National, will also enable better promotion of “made in France”. By 2025, Hervé Lemoine will also contribute to the emergence of a sector strategic committee, in order to strengthen this approach.
In the meantime, the director of National Furniture proposed to the government two organizational plans for the public arts and crafts center: an association of the two establishments in which the governance bodies would be interwoven, or their union into a single structure. The ball is in the government’s court, on the verge of bringing together two jewels of French know-how which have, however, only carried out two joint projects in 70 years.